January - June 2008

France in Libya Talks over Mediterranean Union Plans
AFP - 26 June 2008
"A senior French envoy held talks with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi on Thursday over plans for a Mediterranean bloc based on the European Union that have drawn criticism from Tripoli".  The French initiative has been highly criticized by Kadhafi, viewing it as a threat to Arab and African unity.  He stated, "Our European partners need to understand that. We are in favour of partnership projects but they must take account of these red lines".  However, France continues to plan for a political summit in July to discuss the idea.
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Western Democracies Should Work Together
Jack Martin, Kansas City Star - 23 June 2008
Given the vast number of overlapping problems and shared values between the United States and Europe, now is opportune time to form a strong trans-Atlantic relationship.  Such a point was elucidated during a recent conference organized by the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. and the German Ministry of Defense bringing together different policy and security officials. Facing issues such as global warming, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation, "the democracies of the West cannot hope to be successful without working together."
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Editorial Defends McCain's League of Democracies
Jackson Diehl, "A 'League' by Other Names" The Washington Post 19 May 2008
Diehl, Deputy Editorial Page Editor, argues that Arizona Senator and Republican Presidential nominee John McCain's plans for an international League of Democracies could serve as an effective body when the U.N. Security Council finds itself stalemated. Diehl explains that the general concept has been commented on approvingly by foreign policy advisers on both sides of the aisle. These include academics G. John Ikenberry, Robert Kagan, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, practitioners such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and National Security Adviser Anthony Lake. The new body, once instituted, could confer legitimacy on a wide variety of foreign operations, especially humanitarian interventions, which have been hitherto blocked by non-democratic members of the United Nations. These calls are highlighted by the failure of the international community to act with consensus towards Iran, Darfur, and Myanmar (Burma). By embracing this idea, Diehl believes that whoever is President in 2009 will have a "practical idea" to "take on global crises."
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Russia: Medvedev, Putin Launch 'Two-Headed' Foreign Policy: But Who's Winning?
6 June 2008 - Radio Free Europe/Liberty - Brian Whitmore
Newly elected Russian president Dmitry Medvedev criticized the expansion of NATO and the growing influence of the West.  He recently stated in Berlin, "I'm confident that Atlanticism as the only principle has become obsolete historically. Now, we should talk about the unity of the entire Euro-Atlantic region from Vancouver to Vladivostok."  Such rhetoric demonstrates Russia's dissatisfaction with the advantaged role that the United States possesses and Russia lacks.  Though stating that he was "concerned about the current trend of narrowing mutual understanding in Euro-Atlantic policies", he did recognize current attempts to bridge relations between Russia and the European Union.
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Obama, McCain, and Europe
18 June 2008 - Turkish Daily News - Marco Vincenzino
There is much anticipation in Europe regarding the election of a new American president and his influence on transatlantic relations.  However, it is important to recognize that both candidates will have difficulties overcoming the divide in attitude of Europeans and Americans regarding diplomacy and economics.  Yet the next president's "competence, experience, and ability to delegate authority to qualified advisers and work skillfully with allies in Europe and elsewhere cannot only alter the course of U.S. foreign policy, but help shape a new global paradigm and geopolitical architecture for the 21st century". To confront the global problems of the 21st century, the next president cannot act unilaterally and must work together with other countries.
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Analysis: All Change in U.S. - EU Ties?
16 June 2008 - BBC News - Jonathan Marcus
As President Bush's second term draws to a close, the relations between Europe and America are entering a period of transition.  The bitter tensions that resulted from the US-led invasion of Iraq have begun to ease, and more Atlanticist leaders in France and Germany, two countries that had been especially hostile to the war, have contributed toward improving relations.  President Bush has also softened his style.  Though he continues to defend his policies, he has stated he regrets the impact of his pre-war rhetoric.  In addition, many in Europe see the upcoming presidential election as a way to rehabilitate America's reputation.  "For many analysts it has become commonplace to assert that all will be different once President Bush leaves office.  Some believe a new era of America multilateralism will dissolve once and for all the tension of the recent past."  American concerns that Europe might turn into a rival power are unfounded, as the rejection of the Lisbon treaty proves that Europe is too "obsessed with its on internal issues, and a larger EU is inevitably going to be less coherent abroad."
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Bush Calls for a Unity of Purpose
14 June 2008 - Washington Post
President Bush announced that Western nations must unite to help rebuild the Middle East in the same way the United States came to the aid of post-War Europe.  In a speech intended to be the centerpiece of his 8-day tour of Europe, the President declared: "The rise of free and prosperous societies in the broader Middle East is essential to peace in the 21st century, just as the rise of a free and prosperous Europe was essential to peace in the 20th century." President Bush made the speech in front of an audience gathered to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan.  In addition, "Bush proclaimed the start of a new era of cooperation between Europe and the United States.  'Unity is taking hold after years of transatlantic discord over the Iraq war, global warming and other issues', he said."  Throughout the President's trip, U.S. officials have been attempting to raise pledges to aid the struggling pro-Western Afghan government.
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EU-US Summit Issues Transatlantic Declaration
11 June 2008 - eGov Monitor
In today's  EU-US Summit in Slovenia, leaders of the EU and US discussed several important  issues concerning strengthening a transatlantic partnership in addition to issuing a Joint Declaration. There was mutual agreement over increasing transatlantic ties, and "coordinated cooperation in addressing regional and  global issues." Other topics in discussion were the Visa Waiver Program  which would foster more travel to the US, the Aviation Agreement, an agreement  to reduce the barriers in air transport, and how to work within the UN framework for climate change. Progress of the Transatlantic Economic Council was also reviewed in a report presented by both American and European officials.

Minister Rupel Presents the EU-US Summit in the European Parliament
26 April 2008 - EU Business Ltd.
Discussing the 2008 EU-US Summit, Slovenian Minister Dimitrij Rupel said the result of work between the United States and the European Union has "global effects" and that the "Transatlantic Partnership has gone far beyond its economic dimensions." During the summit, heads of state will discuss issues such as the Middle East Peace Process, the Western Balkans, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Iran.  Climate change, energy, the negotiations within the WTO, development, global health and security, free trade and the free movement will also serve as subjects of discussion. The Summit will also see the first presentation of the Progress Report of the Transatlantic Economic Council, first established at the 2007 EU-US Summit.  Throughout its presidency, Slovenia has also sought to establish new air traffic safety agreements and visa waiver programmes.
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Thomas Carothers "An Unwanted League"
28 May 2008 - The Washington Post
Carothers, the President for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and director of its Democracy and Rule of Law program, writes in an op-ed for the Washington Post assessing recent proposals for a League of Democracies. Carothers doubts whether such a League is a proper avenue for the promotion of democracy and of U.S. global security agenda, in view also of the fact that there is "almost complete absence of any welcoming responses from outside the United States to the calls for a league". Carothers' main argument against these proposals is that: "The idea of a league of democracies rests on the belief that democracies, by virtue of being democracies, have such common interests and perspectives that they will be able to act in unison on global problems. Yet most countries do not base their foreign policy primarily on the orientation of their political system. Instead, their actions reflect a constellation of diverse factors including regional identity, economic needs, historical traditions and religious outlook." Conversely, authoritarian regimes often are useful partners in defending transatlantic security priorities. He is hopeful that future U.S. Presidents do adopt an ambitious foreign policy dedicated to the general promotion of democracy, but that they do not so by using a new institution like the proposed League of Democracies.
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German Foreign Minister Speaks on Germany's Role in the World
12 April 2008 - Harvard University
German Foreign Minister, Walter Steinmeier delivered the key note speech at Harvard University's conference on Germany in the Modern World. He argued that the Atlantic partnership must adjust and transform to better address a series of new global opportunities to take on challenges such as scarce resources, people left behind by globalization, security and fighting terrorism. Mr. Steinmeir's speech echoed U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall's speech at Harvard University in 1947 when he outlined what was later going to be known as the Marshall Plan. The German Foreign Minister argued that just as Secretary Marshall's vision in a nutshell was "smart power," so too does the United States need to use "smart power" to serve its interests. "To use 'smart power,' America - with its global reach - needs allies, and Europe - for its global contributions - needs America."
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EU Representatives To Hand Over Library Collection to University of Pittsburgh
7 April 2008 - Press Release, Delegation of the European Commission to the United States
The head of the Delegation of the European Commission to the United States, Ambassador John Bruton and Slovenian Ambassador Samuel Žbogar representing the rotating EU Presidency, will visit Pittsburgh April 8-9, 2008 to officially hand over the Delegation's library collection to the University of Pittsburgh's Hillman Library.The collection constitutes the most extensive set of public European Community/European Union documents and publications in North America. "The collection will provide a wealth of information for the research conducted at the European Union Center of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh," said Ambassador Bruton.
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The European Commission to Conduct Joint Transatlantic Air Alliance Study with U.S. Department of Transportation
18 March 2008 - CNN
The European Commission launched a research program with the United States Department of Transportation to research airline alliances, the effect of alliances on airline competition, and possible changes in the role of alliances following the EU-US Open Skies air transport agreement.
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Secretary Michael Chertoff: Three EU Members Will Pursue Visa-Waiver Program with the United States
17 March 2008 - The Associated Press
At least three more eastern European EU members will pursue visa-waiver agreements with Washington this week, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Sunday. Although Secretary Chertoff did not specify what countries would benefit from the US visa-waiver program, it is largely believed that Slovakia, Hungary and Lithuania will follow the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia already have signed preliminary visa-waiver deals with the United States.
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New Poll: Europeans and Americans Seek Closer Transatlantic Cooperation
24 March 2008 - The Associated Press
Europeans and Americans prefer closer relations, according to a survey newly released by the British Council. "We started looking into this because we had the feeling that anti-Americanism in Europe was growing and that Europe was becoming less relevant in the United States," said Sharon Memis, the director of the U.S. branch of the British Council. According to the poll: "Most Americans seek stronger ties and 63% of Europeans long for the same. Both Europeans and Americans citing their biggest concern as the environment, followed by war and conflict." (Read More)

McCain Wants a Stronger Transatlantic Relationship as the Key to American Foreign Policy
18 March 2008 - Financial Times
John McCain, "America Must be a Good Role Model"
Senator John McCain, Republican nominee for President, writes in a Financial Times editorial that a strong transatlantic alliance can tackle many world problems. The United States and Europe must strengthen cooperation on defense and security, human rights, and climate change. "The key word - says McCain - is “together”. We need to renew and revitalize our democratic solidarity. We need to strengthen our transatlantic alliance as the core of a new global compact – a League of Democracies – that can harness the great power of the more than 100 democratic nations around the world to advance our values and defend our shared interests."
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European Parliament Celebrates 50th Anniversary
19 March 2008 - European Parliament Website
Today, the world's largest directly elected Parliament celebrates fifty years of operation. On March 19, 1958, the European Parliament was first convened, representing six member states and 168 million people. Today, it speaks on behalf of 500 million EU citizens from 27 nations. Speaking at the anniversary celebration in Strasbourg, France, President of the European Council Janez Jansa said that, thanks in large part to European integration: "practically all of wider Europe now also lives in freedom and democracy. This is an achievement worth embracing and celebrating."
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EU Leaders Agree to Modified Form of Sarkozy's Mediterranean Union
14 March 2008 - EUObserver.coms
EU leaders, meeting in Brussels on Thursday, agreed to a modified version of a proposal put forth by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for a Mediterranean Union. The plan, as it now exists, would have a joint secretariat, a joint Presidency, and a summit meetings between the EU and nations in North Africa and the Middle East. Much still remains to be worked out before a July summit in Paris officially launching the Union of the Mediterranean. The Union is expected to encompass the EU and twelve other nations.
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Editorial Analyzes the Possibilities for a League of Democracies
Didier Jacobs, "A League of Democracies" - Policy Innovations
3 March 2008
In this editorial, Didier Jacobs, Special Advisor to the President of Oxfam America, argues that the idea of a League of Democracies, put forth most recently by Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain, has a lot of promise. It could be especially effective if the United States is willing to include as many  nations as possible who share international norms regarding governance and human rights. Jacobs further argues that this inclusive spirit could avoid the paralysis which marks decision-making at other international institutions if it adopts a pure majority voting rule. He concludes about the possibilities of such a rule in the League by stating: "A League of Democracies that pooled the power and sovereignty of allies could act inclusively and decisively. If need be, after a period for mutual persuasion, the League could move to a vote. All allies would own the majority decision, and accept its consequences. No go-it-alone fiasco; no multilateral paralysis."
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Editorial Comment on the Transatlantic Alliance after the 2008 Presidential Elections
Daniel Rackowski, "A New Era for EU-US Relations?"
3 March 2008 - EU Observer
In this editorial, Daniel Rackowski, a Senior Fellow for EU Affairs at the Transatlantic Institute, based in Brussels, speculates on the future state of the European-American relationship after a new American President is elected in November of 2008. Europeans, he says, should be cautiously optimistic about a new administration. In general, Rackowski argues, EU reforms have made the impression in the United States that the Union can be an important partner in global affairs. This realization should bring with it both a change in tone as well as policies in Washington, D.C. In order to gain more respect in the United States, Rackowski believes Europe should increase its military capabilities. Rackowski concludes "a genuine alliance is attainable if both sides attempt to reconcile their strategic visions beyond an à la carte relationship. A US change in style and rhetoric will not procure a landslide of support in Europe, but it might well be a necessary precursor for a revived partnership."
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C. Boyden Gray Appointed U.S. Special Envoy for European Affairs
White House Press Release - 11 January 2008
C. Boyden Gray, who until the end of 2007 had been United States Ambassador to the European Union, was appointed Special Envoy for European Union Affairs on January 11, 2008. Among the priorities which are expected to be on Gray's agenda are strengthening the recently created Transatlantic Economic council, coordinating climate change policies, and pioneering new energy security policies.
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Former French Prime Minister Calls for a Union of Western Democracies
John Vincour, "A Union of the West? Balladur Says It's Time" - International Herald Tribune - 7 January 2008
Edouard Balladur, former French Prime Minister, published an essay, "Pour une Union occidentale entre l'Europe et les Etats-Unis," which calls for a union between the United States and Europe, a "Union of the West" to strengthen both sides vis a vis China and Russia, and radical Islamism. It would rely on common traditions of democracy and rule of law. The structures and policies of this new entity would include: "a permanent Union secretariat to prepare common positions for international meetings; gradual creation of a common trans-Atlantic market; linkage between the dollar and euro; converging policies on energy supply and its security; and the creation of a trans-Atlantic executive council of leaders that would convene every three months."

As Balladur states, "History is starting to be made without the West, and perhaps one day it will be made against it. There's a simple method for avoiding this. The people of the West must become aware of the risk and convince themselves that the greatest possible solidarity between them is the only means for dealing with it" and that there must be "a new alliance between Europe and America, and even more - a true union." 

"Too great an ambition?" Balladur asks the question himself. "There aren't any others that will allow the West to escape the decline threatening it." America's indispensability has a 20-year time frame; Europe has to stop "nourishing" its "illusion of power." 
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"Pour une Union occidentale entre l'Europe et les Etats-Unis."
Edouard Balladur's essay on a proposed Atlantic Union, is available on the French-language Amazon website at:

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